Skipping breakfast tied to higher risk of hardening in arteries

New research supports the old adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A study of more than 4,000 middle-aged adults in Spain found that those who ate breakfast were less likely to have artery-clogging plaque (atherosclerosis) than those who avoided a morning meal.

On average, the participants ate just over 2,300 calories per day. Nearly 3% didn’t eat anything in the morning, while about 27% ate a hearty breakfast and nearly 70% ate a skimpier meal. Researchers used ultrasound to check their arteries for early evidence of atherosclerosis, as they described in the October 2017 Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Dietary patterns have changed the past few decades and as a result 20-30 % of all adults don’t eat anything in the morning. These trends mirror the increase in obesity and cardiovascular disease.  It is less clear if skipping breakfast leads to obesity or is obese people skip breakfast as an attempt to lose weight. This “chicken or the egg” situation notwithstanding, it is apparent that this is a complex relationship.

Individuals who regularly eat breakfast also tend to have a healthier lifestyle, exercising more, eating better and smoking less than people who skip their morning meal, said Marie-Pierre St-Onge, a nutrition researcher at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City who wasn’t involved in the study.

Nearly 75% of the breakfast skippers had signs of plaque buildup, compared with 57% of those who ate a big breakfast and 64% of those who ate a lighter morning meal.

Breakfast fans tended to eat more healthfully over all and were less likely to be obese or have high blood pressure, diabetes, or unhealthy cholesterol levels. But even with those factors taken into account, skipping a morning meal was still linked to a higher risk of atherosclerosis.

Many overweight people who might be skipping meals in the hope of losing weight should keep in mind that studies have repeatedly shown that contrary to the commonly held belief, such habits can be associated with (weight gain) and might lead to significant metabolic abnormalities including the increased risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes

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